CLINTON TOWNSHIP (AP) >> Romeo Weems raised his game and profile this basketball season.
The New Haven standout spent the last weekend in March at the NCAA Final Four as a member of an all-junior USA Basketball squad that participated in exhibition games against teams organized by the NBA.
A week earlier, Weems led the Rockets into a second consecutive state semifinal game at the Breslin Center, capping a season in which he averaged career highs of 23.5 points and 10.8 rebounds per game.
New Haven was unable to defend its 2017 state championship, losing to Grand Rapids Catholic Central 69-53.
Weems, however, enhanced his stature as one of the state’s premier 11th-graders as he helped New Haven to a 26-0 record and an overall winning streak of 52 games before the semifinal defeat. The target of an intense recruiting campaign, Weems was named The Associated Press Class B Player of the Year for the second consecutive season.
“Romeo had a great season for us,” New Haven coach Tedaro France II said. “He has made tremendous strides in his game and he continues to get better every day.
“With him, it starts in the gym. His work ethic and leadership are second to none and are contagious to everyone in our program.”
Weems, who missed two games in December with an arm injury, scored 590 points this season. That raised his career total to 1,497 and moved Weems to within 343 points of the New Haven record that has stood since 1971.
“I just take things one day at a time,” the 6-foot-7 Weems said.
College coaches pursuing Weems saw a more consistent perimeter shooter this season.
“One of the biggest strides he made was his ability to shoot the 3-point shot,” France said. “He could beat you in so many ways, but he struggled at being consistent behind the arc last season. This past off-season he was determined to improve his ability to shoot the ball, and he became one of the top shooters on our team.”
He was 51-of-126 (40 percent) from 3-point range. As a sophomore, he made 31 percent (20-of-64) from behind the arc.
Weems, who has received offers from Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State and Oregon, among others, gave some of his more memorable performances against the Rockets’ better opponents.
He had 26 points and 12 rebounds in an 81-70 regular-season victory over Flint Beecher, which at the time was the defending state Class C champion.
Weems turned in a quadruple-double that included 19 points and 16 rebounds in a 92-74 victory over Detroit Country Day in a regional championship game.
Weems’ backcourt steal and basket with less than two minutes to play gave the Rockets a 10-point lead after the Yellowjackets had cut a 22-point deficit to eight.
“I’m just playing hard at all times,” Weems said, recalling the tide-turning steal. “I’m going to keep playing no matter what.”
Weems played for the gold-medal-winning USA Basketball U16 team last summer. At New Haven, he has been part of three consecutive regional championship teams.
“He is one of the most coachable, humble and respectful kids I have had the honor to coach,” France said. “He wants to be coached, and he wants to be coached hard. That says a lot about him and who he is as a person, especially from a player of his caliber with all the rankings, achievements and college offers.”
Weems was joined on the 10-player all-state first team by Carlos Johnson of state champion Benton Harbor, Mario Whitley of Frankenmuth, Bryce Drews of Hillsdale, Mark Watts of Detroit Old Redford, Trevion Williams of Detroit Henry Ford Academy, Cole Kleiver of Williamston, Marcus Bingham of Grand Rapids Catholic Central, Luke Tolliver of Paw Paw and Isaiah Jackson of Detroit Old Redford.
Amier Gilmore of South Lake and New Haven’s Tavaras Oliver Jr., Ashton Sherrell and Ronald Jeffery III were named Honorable Mention.
Corey Sterling of Benton Harbor was named AP Coach of the Year.
The team was selected by a panel of Michigan sportswriters.